Blog

#carefreeblackgirls

If you haven’t heard of #carefreeblackgirls before, don’t fret. The hashtag has reappeared even stronger in Zeba Blay’s new book, an essay collection, Carefree Black Girls: A Celebration of Black Women in Popular Culture. Originally coined by Blay on Twitter in 2013, the hashtag reminds its audience of the power and strength of black girlhood and womanhood. I want to be clear, #carefreeblackgirls doesn’t simply mean that black women do not absolutely care for others, as some critics have argued. Instead, the hashtag reminds us that being carefree, in terms of rejecting standards and unapologetically being oneself, is essential to a black woman’s identity. 

Black women are repeatedly wronged in representation. They often face the pressures of fitting into specific criteria of blackness, one that is too often defined by white culture and society. Allowing oneself to be “carefree” intertwines with the concept of being who you want to be rather than being who you are expected to be. Black women can make the same mistakes as any other individual and not care what others think by claiming an attitude that negates the pressures of upholding a singular behavior (one based on stereotypes or prejudices). Achieving a carefree attitude is equivalent to being accepted, acknowledged, and celebrated as a black woman or girl. Projecting a carefree attitude, as opposed to what the world wants you to be or how it thinks of you, allows black women and girls to defy the governance of societal expectations. A “carefree” poise allows them to engage with who they truly are. 

According to Zeba Blay, the #carefreeblackgirl is…

“a way to carve out a space of celebration and freedom for Black women online” (PenguinBooks)

Image courtesy of Rayo and Honey on Pinterest

A Deeper Meaning? 

 Claiming subjectivity, or to “claim space,” is at the core of this empowering hashtag. 

Zeba Blay tells us, “I think ultimately using hashtags like #carefreeblackgirl, #blackboyjoy, #blackgirlmagic and #blackgirlluxury is just a way for us to claim space in a world that wants us to diminish and hide ourselves. Using that hashtag was a way for me to assert and affirm my right to exist (Forbes).

Image courtesy of TeenVogue

Black Representation in Pop Culture 

Let us really examine the aspirations of the culture and film critic Zeba Blay. When looking at Zeba Blay’s Instagram, one enters a world of aesthetically pleasing black simplicity jointly fused with black girl power. As she repudiates the media’s lack of representation or misrepresentation of black women, Blay’s content reminds us of the significant weight black women and black girls hold in pop culture. 

This is the same message and intent carried throughout Zeba Blay’s new book, newly published this past month. Her book takes the #carefreeblackgirl ideology and enters “the work and lasting achievements of influential Black women in Pop Culture – writers, artists, actresses, dancers, hip-hop stars – whose contributions often come in the face of bigotry, misogyny, and stereotypes. Blay celebrates the strength and fortitude of these Black women, while also examining the many stereotypes and rigid identities that have clung to them”(PenguinBooks). With an emphasis on autonomy, Blay highlights the relevance of black women and black girl voices. She, therefore, stresses the impact that black women have in pop culture, and thus, on the world. 

CFBG Community

The carefree black girl presence extends within and even beyond online platforms. The hashtag is an example of how communities connect and unify. We can see here how Blay’s words evolved into a black communal phenomenon with CareFreeBlackGirl, LLC. According to their site, and empowered by Blay’s hashtag movement, the LLC is “a lifestyle brand that focuses on women empowerment, entrepreneurship, and the arts” (CareFreeBlackGirl). Their representation of a carefree black girl strongly resonates with Blay’s hashtag and message, a place to uplift the #carefreeblackgirl community. 

Image courtesy of Zeba Blay on Instagram

Takeaway

If Blay has proven anything, it’s that the world ought to understand the impact black women have in pop culture and their role in society. With the #carefreeblackgirl spirit, MEDIAGIRLS can push to see a more influential representation of themselves and come to find more individuals, like Blay, that advocate for their crucial voices. With this understanding in mind, I encourage you to reflect on the carefree black girl spirit as you explore #carefreeblackgirls.

Go check out Zeba Blay’s new book: 

Carefree Black Girls: A Celebration of Black Women in Popular Culture

Aryana Martin, Editorial Intern, is a student at Emmanuel College in Boston, Mass. She studies English with a double minor in Sociology and African and African Diaspora Studies. She’s passionate about reading, writing, learning, and creating new relationships and experiences. She is thrilled to contribute to the MEDIAGIRLS mission.

Featured image courtesy of Monday on Pinterest

Sign your Girl+ up for our next #RMG Workshop!